Sunday, June 03, 2007

Next (Dem?) governor will be defined by paying attention to mental health issues: GIVE YOUR OPINION

Chris (Fitzsimmons) (of NC Policy Watch):

thanks for your quote in Rosomer article: ""I can't think of better evidence of the chaos in our mental-health system - that the people at various levels of state government are so widely divergent," said Chris Fitzsimon, the executive director of
N.C. Policy Watch, a liberal-leaning group in Raleigh."

Here is Rosomer's article: Sunday, June 3, 2007
State budget plan faces some study; Critics say mental health is slighted
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Next (Dem?) governor will be defined by paying attention to mental health issues: GIVE YOUR OPINION
Chris (Fitzsimmons) (of NC Policy Watch): (Local News, 3rd item) OR


I'd like to suggest that there are strong currents just below the surface:

FIRST AND FOREMOST: . Governor Easley has no intention of assisting mental health patients or advocates. Every one of his actions verified this: supporting Hooker-Odom; choosing the lowest amount with which to fund mental health care, etc. Accordingly, the Dem Party of NC needs to be called on the carpet about this critical matter and in association with who is to run for governor next.

In reading across the available online literature associated with how mental health has been addressed over the past 27 years in NC, one comes up with the following cursory conclusions. The matter of state legislators being 'widely divergent' is associated with all the bait and switching which has taken place at the behest of DHHS. IMO, the state legislature needs to have a very tight reign over DHHS. This agency has proven it has no capacity to stay on point and maintain a direction. This is completely evident when one attends provider meetings at the local LME, such as I attend vis a vis Smoky MOuntain Center LME :

As I read across the below, attempting to map out what has taken place and more pointedly what has not, these are shadowy matters which seem to be in the foreground:

1. very little has changed in terms of upgrading mental health care as associated with 'official' overview of what mentally ill people need (if you think about the strides that western medicine has made in terms of cancer treatment and surgical techniques, the lack of progress is even more glaring).

2. people are out of the hospitals and the Willie M. case, in particular, which caught the attention of a NC state legislator (Willie M was a male adolescent with behavioral problems who was kept w/o rx in some facility in NC) caused people to focus upon children's mental health care matters----in particular.

3. It appears that with people out of the hospitals, psychiatric hospitals have been defunded which is only acceptable if you fund fully the 'pre-hospitalization' services. Thus, Community Support's intention was to do this in part. Community Support includes 24/7 emergency services.

4. Now we have the predicament of defunding of emergency pscyhiatric care and defunding of the mechanism which, in part, was to address issues prior to necessary psychiatric hospitalization.

5. It seems to me that the movement ouf of institutions e.g., psychiatric hospitals, is one matter which has been legislatively determined at the federal and state level. This clock will not be turned back. However, what has not happened in a very pointed manner is that 'pre-hospitalization' services which might be residential homes; emergency foster care; formal psychosocial support systems which provide social contact (for adults), etc., are being cut. You can't both: cut in emergency psychiatric services----which is legislatively demanded as associated with multiple lawsuits and a cut in 'pre-hospitalization' services.

Careful attention to full funding and overviewing of 'pre-emergency' services MUST be the first and consistent item of business. MAKE YOUR CHOICE: return to psychiatric hospitals (and this cannot be done in terms of federal and state legal precedent) OR fund and overview 'pre-emergency' services such as Community Support; crisis care; psychosocial support; etc.

I will call Jerry Meek this week to see what is being done about this matter. It is curious that he is an attorney who works with mental health matters and there is so little coming out of the Dem Party website re: this critical matter. Attention to this will define the ease of election of the next possible Dem governor, or not.

Marsha V. Hammond, PhD



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